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CH Becker on Islam and Christianity

CH Becker on Islam and Christianity

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Published by Iconoclasti Muslimi
A discussion of the similarities, and differences in islam and christianity.
A discussion of the similarities, and differences in islam and christianity.

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Published by: Iconoclasti Muslimi on Sep 25, 2010
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02/01/2013

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Christianity and Islam
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Christianity and Islam, by C.H. Becker This eBook is for the use of anyoneanywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use itunder the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: Christianity and IslamAuthor: C.H. BeckerRelease Date: February 20, 2004 [EBook #11198]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM ***Produced by Luiz Antonio de Souza and PG Distributed ProofreadersCHRISTIANITYANDISLAMBYC.H. BECKER, PH.D.PROFESSOR OF ORIENTAL HISTORY IN THE COLONIAL INSTITUTE OF HAMBURGTRANSLATED BY REV. H.J. CHAYTOR, M.A.HEADMASTER OF PLYMOUTH COLLEGE1909TABLE OF CONTENTSThe subject from different points of view: limits of treatmentThe nature of the subject: the historical points of connection between Christianity and IslamA. Christianity and the rise of Islam:1. Muhammed and his contemporaries2. The influence of Christianity upon the development of Muhammed3. Muhammed's knowledge of Christianity
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4. The position of Christians under MuhammedanismB. The similarity of Christian and Muhammedan metaphysics during the middle ages:1. The means and direction by which Christian influence affected Islam2. The penetration of daily life by the spirit of religion; asceticism, contradictions and influences affecting thedevelopment of a clerical class and the theory of marriage3. The theory of life in general with reference to the doctrine of immortality4. The attitude of religion towards the State, economic life, society, etc.5. The permanent importance to Islam of these influences: the doctrine of duties6. Ritual7. Mysticism and the worship of saints8. Dogma and the development of scholasticismC. The influence of Islam upon Christianity:The manner in which this influence operated, and the explanation of the superiority of IslamThe influence of Muhammedan philosophyThe new world of European Christendom and the modern EastConclusion. The historical growth of religionBibliographyCHRISTIANITY AND ISLAMA comparison of Christianity with Muhammedanism or with any other religion must be preceded by astatement of the objects with which such comparison is undertaken, for the possibilities which lie in thisdirection are numerous. The missionary, for instance, may consider that a knowledge of the similarities of these religions would increase the efficacy of his proselytising work: his purpose would thus be whollypractical. The ecclesiastically minded Christian, already convinced of the superiority of his own religion, willbe chiefly anxious to secure scientific proof of the fact: the study of comparative religion from this point of view was once a popular branch of apologetics and is by no means out of favour at the present day. Again, theinquirer whose historical perspective is undisturbed by ecclesiastical considerations, will approach the subjectwith somewhat different interests. He will expect the comparison to provide him with a clear view of theinfluence which Christianity has exerted upon other religions or has itself received from them: or he may hopeby comparing the general development of special religious systems to gain a clearer insight into the growth of Christianity. Hence the object of such comparisons is to trace the course of analogous developments and theinteraction of influence and so to increase the knowledge of religion in general or of our own religion inparticular.A world-religion, such as Christianity, is a highly complex structure and the evolution of such a system of belief is best understood by examining a religion to which we have not been bound by a thousand ties from
Christianity and Islam2
 
the earliest days of our lives. If we take an alien religion as our subject of investigation, we shall not shrink from the consequences of the historical method: whereas, when we criticise Christianity, we are often unableto see the falsity of the pre-suppositions which we necessarily bring to the task of inquiry: our minds followthe doctrines of Christianity, even as our bodies perform their functions--in complete unconsciousness. At thesame time we possess a very considerable knowledge of the development of Christianity, and this we owelargely to the help of analogy. Especially instructive is the comparison between Christianity and Buddhism.No less interesting are the discoveries to be attained by an inquiry into the development of Muhammedanism:here we can see the growth of tradition proceeding in the full light of historical criticism. We see the plainman, Muhammed, expressly declaring in the Qoran that he cannot perform miracles, yet gradually becoming amiracle worker and indeed the greatest of his class: he professes to be nothing more than a mortal man: hebecomes the chief mediator between man and God. The scanty memorials of the man become voluminousbiographies of the saint and increase from generation to generation.Yet more remarkable is the fact that his utterances, his
logia
, if we may use the term, some few of which arecertainly genuine, increase from year to year and form a large collection which is critically sifted andexpounded. The aspirations of mankind attribute to him such words of the New Testament and of Greek philosophers as were especially popular or seemed worthy of Muhammed; the teaching also of the newecclesiastical schools was invariably expressed in the form of proverbial utterances attributed to Muhammed,and these are now without exception regarded as authentic by the modern Moslem. In this way opinions oftencontradictory are covered by Muhummed's authority.The traditions concerning Jesus offer an analogy. Our Gospels, for instance, relate the beautiful story of theplucking of the ears of corn on the Sabbath, with its famous moral application, "The Sabbath was made forman, and not man for the Sabbath." A Christian papyrus has been discovered which represents Jesus asexplaining the sanctity of the Sabbath from the Judaeo-Christian point of view. "If ye keep not the Sabbathholy, ye shall not see the Father," is the statement in an uncanonical Gospel. In early Christian literature,contradictory sayings of Jesus are also to be found. Doubtless here, as in Muhammedan tradition, the problemoriginally was, what is to be my action in this or that question of practical life: answer is given in accordancewith the religious attitude of the inquirer and Jesus and Muhammed are made to lend their authority to theteaching. Traditional literary form is then regarded as historical by later believers.Examples of this kind might be multiplied, but enough has been said to show that much and, to some extent,new light may be thrown upon the development of Christian tradition, by an examination of Muhammedanismwhich rose from similar soil but a few centuries later, while its traditional developments have been much morecompletely preserved.Such analogies as these can be found, however, in any of the world-religions, and we propose to devote ourattention more particularly to the influences which Christianity and Islam exerted directly upon one another.While Muhammedanism has borrowed from its hereditary foe, it has also repaid part of the debt. By the veryfact of its historical position Islam was at first indebted to Christianity; but in the department of Christianphilosophy, it has also exerted its own influence. This influence cannot be compared with that of Greek orJewish thought upon Christian speculation: Christian philosophy, as a metaphysical theory of existence, washowever strongly influenced by Arabian thought before the outset of the Reformation. On the other hand theinfluence of Christianity upon Islam--and also upon Muhammed, though he owed more to Jewishthought--was so extensive that the coincidence of ideas upon the most important metaphysical questions ispositively amazing.There is a widespread belief even at the present day that Islam was a complete novelty and that the religionand culture of the Muhammedan world were wholly alien to Western medievalism. Such views are entirelyfalse; during the Middle Ages Muhammedanism and Western culture were inspired by the same spirit. Thefact has been obscured by the contrast between the two religions whose differences have been constantlyexaggerated and by dissimilarities of language and nationality. To retrace in full detail the close connection
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